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Thursday, 27 June 1946

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) (12:22 PM) .- The speech of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) constitutes one of the best reasons why an inquiry should be held. He spoke of the need that existed to bring divisions back to Australia in order to defend this country, and then he said that there was no need to inquire why troops were left exposed in positions to the north of Australia. Surely, if it was necessary to bring back two divisions to defend Australia, it was even more necessary to bring back the troops who had been left exposed in the north like bits of cheese left out for rats in a barn. That is a point which I want cleared up. In January last, I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) to what extent certain military dispositions were the result of political considerations rather than military considerations. The speech which the Minister for the Army has just delivered raises this issue once more. He virtually admitted that men were sent into forward positions regardless of military considerations. Some government, whether it be Labour or antiLabour, will eventually have to grant access to certain documents so that the public may learn for themselves the rights and wrongs of this matter. This is alleged to be a democratic community.

Mr CALWELL - It is, too.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - I am very doubtful of it. I have had a question on the notice-paper for over three months, and only recently did I receive a reply to it. Then I was told that I could not be informed of the cost of certain imported commodities because the matter was linked with lend-lease arrangements, and it was not-permissible to tell the people what had been done under lend-lease arrangements. The people of Australia will not take that sort of thing from any government. If members of the Government want to get into a first-class " dust-up " with democracy in action let them go on telling the people that they cannot be told the why and the wherefore of certain government actions about which they are greatly disturbed.

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